SOUTH WHITLEY – Brain trauma has been in the national spotlight for the sport of football in recent years.

A recent study from Boston University found that 88 percent of NFL players who had their brains tested had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease found in people who have suffered multiple blows to the head. Players in high school may not be taking the same kind of hits that professional athletes do, but Whitko High School is taking the steps in lowering the risk of head injuries with new helmet technology.

Parkview Whitley Hospital, along with Parkview Sports Medicine and Parkview Physicians Group, has invested in the new technology for this upcoming Whitko football season.

The impact response system is a helmet-based impact monitoring technology designed to send an alert when significant single or multiple impacts are sustained during a football game or practice.

The technology from Riddell has a lightweight sensor in the helmets. The hits are transmitted to an on-site alert monitor, which will be handled by either a coach or athletic trainer.

“This technology gives our medical professionals a way to gather impact data from pre-season practices through post-season play,” said Scott Gabriel, president, Parkview Whitley Hospital. “The Whitko football program already stresses the importance of proper hitting techniques and follows a well-established protocol if a concussion is suspected. This technology provides another set of eyes on the players with the goal of increasing the safety of the game.”

The alerts sent to the hand-held device is signaled by any combination of flashing LED, vibration or audio signal. The top 1 percent of hits will generate an alert to the monitor. Significant impacts captured over a seven-day span will also signal an alert. The Whitko football staff will execute its sideline assessment protocol if the monitor shows the number of hits a player has sustained are concerning.

The technology is used in other high schools in Indiana, including Huntington North. Whitko is the first team to use the technology in Whitley County.

“We feel fortunate to offer our athletes this advanced technology, and appreciate Parkview’s willingness invest in our sports programs with the goal of increasing safety,” said Jeff Sprunger, head football coach, Whitko High School. Sprunger, who spent his undergraduate years as an equipment manager for Indiana University’s football program. “There is a lot to be gained from the game of football, and it’s imperative that we do everything we can to keep players safe.”

He said he wants to pass his love of the game onto players while improving their skill and safety